Investing.com - U.S. stocks opened lower on Thursday, after
upbeat U.S. data as comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben
Bernanke saying that the bank could begin tapering its bond-buying
program continued to weigh.
During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid
0.52%, the S&P 500 index retreated 0.80%, while the Nasdaq
Composite index declined 0.67%.
In testimony to the U.S. Joint Economic Committee on Wednesday,
Bernanke said a decision to scale back the Fed's asset purchase
program could be taken in the "next few meetings" depending on
Meanwhile, Wednesday's minutes from the U.S. central bank's May
meeting showed a "number" of policymakers were prepared to taper
bonds purchases as soon as June.
Separately, the U.S. Department of Labor said the number of people
who filed for unemployment assistance last week fell by 23,000 to a
seasonally adjusted 340,000, compared to expectations for a decline
of 18,000 to 345,000.
Jobless claims for the preceding week were revised up to 363,000
from a previously reported increase of 360,000.
Financial stocks were broadly lower, as shares in JP Morgan tumbled
1.45% and Goldman Sachs plummeted 1.69%, after Bank of America and
Citigroup dove 2.48% and 2.31% respectively.
Adding to losses, Bristol-Myers Squibb slid 0.32% after a Citigroup
note highlighted excitement surrounding so-called immunotherapy, in
the wake of positive results from clinical trials conducted by
companies such as Bristol-Myers and Roche Holding.
On the upside, Hewlett-Packard saw shares surge 10.17% after the
maker of personal computers said earnings excluding some items will
be in the range of 84 cents to 87 cents a share in the three months
through July, above analysts' estimates.
Among retailers, PetSmart jumped 1.45%, after the retailer said
late Wednesday that it predicted higher full-year earnings than
initially forecast in March.
Other stocks in focus included Gap, Salesforce.com,
Williams-Sonoma, Zumiez, Pandora and Aeropostale, all scheduled to
report first-quarter earnings after the closing bell.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were sharply lower. The
EURO STOXX 50 plummeted 2.42%, France's CAC 40 retreated 2.41%,
Germany's DAX plunged 2.45%, while Britain's FTSE 100 tumbled
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index
plummeted 2.54%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index dove 7.32%.
Also Thursday, the preliminary reading of China's HSBC
manufacturing purchasing managers' index fell to 49.6 in May, below
the 50 level that separates contraction from growth down from a
final reading of 50.4 in April.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to release official data on new home
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